Illegal settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem poses the greatest threat to peace between Israel and Palestine, the European Union said in a report that urges all EU states to end all financial investments or transactions that could directly or indirectly aid the settlement-building process.
Written by the EU heads of mission in Jerusalem and Ramallah, the previously unpublished 'Jerusalem Report 2012'—which was obtained by Haaretz—calls for economic sanctions on all settlements. Additionally, the report argues that Israel's persistent settlement expansion is "systematic, deliberate and provocative" and a sabotage on the Israel/Palestine peace process.
According to the report, Israel is “systematically undermining the Palestinian presence” in Jerusalem, through policies including “restrictive zoning and planning, demolitions and evacuations, discriminatory access to religious sites, an inequitable education policy, difficult access to health care, the inadequate provision of resources.”
According to Haaretz, the report most pointedly reprimands Israel over its recent construction plans in Area E-1, which would link Jerusalem to the nearby West Bank settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim.
This expansion in E-1 “threatens 2,300 Bedouin with forcible transfer,” the report states, and “would effectively divide the West Bank into separate northern and southern parts.” It would also “prevent Palestinians in East Jerusalem from further urban development and cut off East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank.”
Settlement plans for this area were made official in late November after Palestinians gained observer state status at the United Nations, and include over 5,000 new Jewish settlements in the West Bank in the near future.
The report urges EU member states to “coordinate EU monitoring and a strong EU response in order to prevent settlement construction in E-1, including opposing forced transfer of the Bedouin communities in E-1.”
The report makes six recommendations on economic issues, suggesting member states "prevent, discourage and raise awareness about problematic implications of financial transactions, including foreign direct investments, from within the EU in support of settlement activities, infrastructure and services."
Among the more specific actions suggested by the EU, Haaretz reports:
Seven of the report’s 10 recommendations deal with imposing direct or indirect sanctions by the European Union on bodies and organizations involved in construction in the settlements. The recommendation to actively encourage European divestment from the settlements is particularly severe, compared with previous internal EU reports.
The consuls recommend that the EU ensure strict application of the free trade agreement between the EU and Israel so that products manufactured in settlements do not benefit from preferential treatment. Another clause recommends encouraging efforts to enforce existing legislation requiring products made in the settlements to be labeled as such at sales points.
The report was originally handed to the EU institutions in Brussels and to the foreign ministries of the 27 member states in early January.